Class A softball: Neshannock wins second title in a row

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Tracy Kimmel was concerned about how an 85-minute rain delay would affect his Neshannock softball team in its biggest game this year.

Still, he held out hope that things would be fine. “We pretty much stay on course here throughout the year. If you don’t know what you’re doing by now, it’s too late.”

For the Lancers, that course more often than not ended in a win and not even a brief downpour could change that trend.

Sparked by a five-run fifth inning interrupted by the rain delay, Neshannock (16-2) raced to an 8-5 victory against the South Side Beaver Rams in the WPIAL Class A softball championship Thursday at California University’s Lilley Field.

The WPIAL title is the second in a row for the top-seeded Lancers.

“We’ve had a lot of success here the past couple of years, but it’s always nice to win,” Kimmel said. “You don’t ever get tired of winning.”

Early in the game, such an offensive outburst seemed unnecessary as Neshannock built a 3-0 lead through three innings.

But South Side Beaver (16-4) — playing in its first WPIAL softball championship — stormed back, tying the score on Antonia Yacoviello’s two-run single in the fourth,

After regaining the lead before the delay, Neshannock put the game away after play resumed.

Jenna DeLuca drove in one run and Marissa DeMatteo drove home two the following at-bat, turning what had been a tie entering the inning into a comfortable, 8-3 advantage.

“I just kept loose during the rain delay,” DeLuca said. “I knew whenever I got up to bat, I needed to get some runs in.”

After scoring two more runs in their half of the fifth, the Rams trailed, 8-5, heading into the final inning. They had a chance to tie, but Madison Shaffer struck out Yacoviello with runners on first and second to secure the win.

DeLuca went 3 for 4 with one run and three RBIs while DeMatteo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs and one run. Shaffer picked up the win, giving up two earned runs in seven innings while striking out eight.

With another WPIAL championship to their credit, the Lancers will turn their attention to a PIAA crown, an achievement they fell one game short of last season.

“We want to get back,” Kimmel said. “There’s nothing like that state tournament.”

Craig Meyer: and Twitter @ CraigMeyerPG.

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